Thursday, July 23, 2020


Yesterday, The Washington Post reminded us that President Trump and the Republicans have plans to intimidate Democratic voters at polling places:
The president is being backed by a bustling Republican operation in 15 states to monitor voting locations and ensure a heavy GOP presence at polling sites.

Trump’s reelection campaign and the RNC are working together to recruit 50,000 volunteers to serve as “poll watchers,” according to advisers to both groups, with $20 million set aside for courtroom fights, underscoring the legal arsenal at the party’s disposal.
But will the real intimidators be the stormtroopers Trump is now sending into major cities? Will those stormtroopers be at urban polling places in key swing states?

Don't forget the story of the Republican National Committee's Ballot Security Task Force:
The National Ballot Security Task Force (BSTF) was a controversial group founded in 1981 in New Jersey by the Republican National Committee (RNC) as a means of intimidating voters and discouraging voter turnout among likely Democratic voters in the gubernatorial election. The group's activities prompted the Democratic National Committee (DNC) to bring a federal lawsuit, alleging a violation of the Voting Rights Act, illegal harassment, and voter intimidation. The RNC and New Jersey Republican State Committee entered into a consent decree in 1982, barring them from engaging in further such conduct until 2017.
Democrats sued to extend the consent decree, but a final ruling came in early 2009: The consent decree would not be reinstated. So Trump and the GOP are free to do what they did in 1981 in New Jersey.

Here's what they did:
... the RNC was accused of using a list of registered voters from predominately black and Hispanic communities; mailing sample ballots to the addresses listed, and when some were returned as undeliverable, adding those voters to a list to be challenged.

In addition to that list, Republicans posted off-duty police and sheriff’s officers — some of whom were wearing their department-issued firearms and radios — at polling places in the same districts.

To give it the feel of an official government-sanctioned action, the officers involved in the program wore armbands emblazoned with the label: “National Ballot Security Task Force.”

Moreover, signs were posted that loomed large over such polling places about how authorities were on the hunt for voter fraud: One such sign read: “WARNING – THIS AREA IS BEING PATROLLED BY THE NATIONAL BALLOT SECURITY TASK FORCE. IT IS A CRIME TO FALSIFY OR TO VIOLATE ELECTION LAWS.”

A list of several state laws were included related to voter eligibility and a “$1,000 Reward for information leading to arrest and conviction of persons violating New Jersey election law” was offered with a telephone number for tipsters to call....

Ocean County Sheriff Michael G. Mastronardy, a Republican, who was a 29-year-old Toms River police officer in 1981, said he recalls being sent to a local polling place at the time while on duty and remembers not being comfortable in doing so.

“It’s intimidating (for the voter),” Mastronardy said.

If a voter with an outstanding warrant or other issue with the law were to spot an officer inside their polling place, they would likely turn around and leave rather than risk possible arrest or questioning, he said.
It worked, too -- the Republican candidate for governor, Tom Kean, won by 1,797 votes out of more than 2 million cast. (Did I mention the fact that Kean's campaign was run by Roger Stone?)

Imagine the Ballot Security Task Force on steroids. Imagine this being done by Trump's unidentified, probably masked, heavily armed stormtroopers in Milwaukee, Detroit, Pittsbugh, Philadelphia, and other cities in swing states.

Hey, why not? It's legal now.

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